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Mountain Lake Lodge celebrates 30 years of ‘Dirty Dancing’

The hot summer movie season is here, but we like to reminisce.

Who didn’t fall in love with Patrick Swayze (Johnny) as he romanced Jennifer Grey (Baby) in “Dirty Dancing” the summer of 1987?

The low budget movie became a massive box office hit, the soundtrack went platinum and the rest is history.

While the story was set in New York’s Catskill Mountains, one of the primary filming locations was actually Pembroke, Va., site of the Mountain Lake Lodge, a real place you can visit.

The Mountain Lake Lodge in Virginia was one of the primary filming locations of Dirty Dancing. (Photo courtesy of Mountain Lake Lodge.)

So if you owned the Dirty Dancing album (or even know what an album is) you’re old enough for a Dirty Dancing weekend at Mountain Lake Lodge which hosts four throughout the summer — June 23-25, July 28-30, Aug. 25-27 and Sept. 15-17.

All you Baby and Johnny wannabes can pack up your pedal pushers and travel back in time. (Plus embarrass your kids in the process.)

The lodge promises that fans will be “immersed in memories” throughout their stay.

The weekend includes a film location tour, scavenger hunt and lawn games from the movie like the bunny hop and potato sack races. (What we want to know is will anyone have to carry a watermelon or try to put Baby in a corner?)

The movie will be shown on “Kellerman’s lawn” (the name of the fictional resort) and there will be a dance party at the gazebo. (Will Penny be giving lessons?)

Lots of dancing is planned all weekend long with a big dance performance Saturday evening. Film character dress highly encouraged.

“We are so excited to celebrate the 30th anniversary of ‘Dirty Dancing’ with our guests who love the movie as much as we do,” said Heidi Stone, general manager of Mountain Lake Lodge.

While the movie is set in 1963, Mountain Lake Lodge has kept up with the times, including the upgrades of six of the historic cabins on Cabin Row. Be sure to take a picture of the Virginia Cottage, better known as “Baby’s Cabin” from the movie.

“Baby’s Cabin is the most popular and has been since 1987. It’s generally is booked a year in advance especially for the Dirty Dancing weekends. Guests who occupy Baby’s Cabin on the dancing weekends are always more than gracious to let fellow fans have their picture taken in front of the cabin or on the porch. There is no question that Baby’s Cabin is a highlight of the Dirty Dancing film tour,” said Stone.

Dirty Dancing weekend packages also include breakfast, lunch and dinner. Prices start at $350 per person.

“We look forward to sharing with guests where Baby and the rest of Houseman family stayed, danced and loved in our beautiful resort,” said Stone.

Undoubtedly you will have the time of your life, but the lodge offer much more for a longer stay:

The lodge’s adventure center provides several recreational outlets, like the Treetop Adventures aerial park with a zip lines course. For those with acrophobia, there’s quirky fun on the ground, like archery tag, bubble ball and “zorb” racing. New this year is a five story inflatable Sky Slide.

The Tree Top Adventure is a challenging aerial park with zip lines. (Photo courtesy of Mountain Lake Lodge.)

For nature lovers, Mountain Lake Lodge offers “Road Scholar” adventures that focus on the natural beauty of the area. The Appalachian Experience explores the culture and history of the Appalachian people; Something for Everyone is a first time birder program offered during the spring and fall during migration; and Astronomy: The Universe and Beyond deals with the sky above. Call (540) 626-7121, ext. 405 for information.

The lake itself unique, because it has a natural cycle of rising and falling of the water, going from being full to totally dry. A video on the lodge’s website “Mystery of the Lake” explains this one-of-a-kind phenomenon.

Lodge restaurants are under the direction of Chef Michael Porterfield who began his career at the lodge 34 years ago. (Fun fact, Porterfield gave Patrick Swayze a ride on his motorcycle to a grocery store during the filming of the movie.) Farm-to-table dining is featured at Harvest restaurant, while the Stony Creek Tavern more casual. Mary’s Market & Café provides guests with grab and go items.

In addition to the Dirty Dancing weekends, the lodge will host a big Fourth of July fireworks celebration the weekend before July 4.

More to do nearby the lodge

Located in the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Mountain Lake Lodge is part of the Appalachian Mountain Range and at the center of a 2,600-acre nature preserve. About 20 minutes away is the Cascade National Recreation Trail and the Cascade Falls. The two-mile hike ends at a giant 66-foot waterfall.

A hike along the Cascade National Recreation Trail ends at a 66-foot-high waterfall. (Photo courtesy of Virginia's Blue Ridge.)

The nearby town of Paint Bank, Va., has an old time general store, the Swinging Bridge Restaurant and Potter’s Creek Outfitters to book fishing and hunting experiences, while the town of Blacksburg (home of Virginia Tech), has eclectic shops, galleries, live music and restaurants.

Lodging includes 43 rooms in the Main Stone Lodge, 16 in Chestnut Lodge, nine mountain homes in Blueberry Ridge, eight historic rustic cabins and nine front lawn cottages on a preserved mountaintop property owned by the Mary Moody Northern Endowment.

Mountain Lake Conservancy, a non-profit organization founded in 1989, serves to protect the land and wildlife resources on the property for future generations.

To learn more, view other summer packages and to make reservations go to

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